A healthy pregnancy begins before you even know you’re expecting. Here are a few important supplements to get the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.
See also What to Eat When You’re Expecting.
A Prenatal Multivitamin
A good prenatal vitamin should contain folic acid, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals to ensure your baby is getting what he or she needs to grow and develop normally.
Doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins before you conceive since the baby’s neural tube develops during the first month of pregnancy, so this is something to consider consuming as soon as you begin thinking about starting a family.
A 2018 study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that the offspring of women who took folic acid before pregnancy had a significantly lower likelihood of being diagnosed with autism that those of women who did not take folic acid before becoming pregnant.
While not usually found in a prenatal multivitamin, omega-3s are essential during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), omega-3s (namely DHA and EPA) are critical for both neurological and early visual development of the baby.
The APA also asserts that an omega-3 deficiency can increase a pregnant woman’s risk of depression.
There is a concern that consuming fish during pregnancy could lead to exposure to toxins like mercury. Supplementation with a high-quality fish oil is recommended.
Taking a probiotic during pregnancy can boost the immune system of the mother and the growing child.
After initial concerns regarding the safety of taking a probiotic during pregnancy, the National Institutes of Health has concluded that there does not appear to be any risk for pregnant or lactating females.
A study published in the Natural Medicine Journal found that women who supplemented with a probiotic had a reduced rate of gestational diabetes when compared to the control group.
You should always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement, especially during pregnancy. Remember to check package labels, as some products may contain more than one ingredient and you don’t want to take more of any supplement than is safely tolerated.
Karen Morse, MPH, is a freelance health and nutrition writer. In her free time, she enjoys Pilates, exploring nearby hiking trails and cooking up fresh, seasonal eats in the kitchen. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Weight Watchers, YouBeauty.com and others.